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Forty-Five More Eritrean Christians Rounded Up

March 6, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Eritrean women praying together

Open Doors learned last month of a massive campaign against Christians in the Western Eritrean region of Anseba. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, security rounded up at least forty Christians from their homes and work-places. Sources say they have heard the government will continue arrests in other Anseba towns like Keren, Tesenai, Barentu and Adi-Tekelezan.

The next day, on Feb. 27, Eritrean authorities arrested 45 more men and women in its intensive campaign against Christians worshipping outside the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Churches. This brings the number of Christians arrested last week in Western Eritrea to 85 and raises the total arrested since January to 125.

All of the believers arrested on Wednesday were from a single denomination in Barentu. Open Doors was informed that police arrested these church members from homes and workplaces during broad daylight and then marched them through town to the police station while beating them.

Prior to the arrests, the security chief of Barentu told residents at a public meeting that the members of banned churches are secretly working against peace and unity in Eritrea. Individuals, whom sources say had been planted beforehand, stood up and angrily called on the government to take action against Christians. The accusations received no support from the wider public attending the meeting. In fact, soon after the proceedings, attendees started alerting Christians to the imminent arrests.

Christians told Open Doors that, as believers who are told to live in peace with all people, they have no desire to harm peace or unity in Eritrea. Despite the government’s distrust and hostility, Christians continue to pray for their leaders and desire to honor them in all matters that do not require them to act against their conscience.

These reports heighten concerns that the government is carrying out its intention to rid the country of religious elements, which was vaguely mentioned in the editorial of a recent Ministry of Information newsletter. Local Christians are deeply saddened by the continued hostility against them from the government.

“I love my leaders; I pray for them every day,” one mother told us. “Christians in general love their country and desire an opportunity to help build a fruitful society. But they want to do so without having to abandon their religious beliefs,” commented an Open Doors representative.

Father, as we pray for our fellow believers in Eritrea, we call on You to grant them the grace to respond to these challenges in a way that glorify You. We pray that Christians will have the opportunity to humbly converse with the government on why they should be allowed to worship You outside of the government-sanctioned churches. Protect those in prison now, granting them the strength to endure, and opportunities to testify to the grace within them to guards and other prisoners. We stand in amazement that You continue to build Your church in this hostile environment and pray for the day when they will be free to worship You and lift Your name on high. In the name of Jesus, our glorious presence in the midst of trouble, Amen.

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